Sonic Reducer

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Albuquerque’s Nikki Kelly sounds like she just woke up. Her sleepy, raspy and understated vocals set up the scene for everything she crafts instrumentally. Kelly plays guitar, piano, accordion and ukulele on her self-titled release, but the record is hardly cacophonous. Subdued folk keeps its cool and the biggest surprises come when Kelly’s voice shoots high into the air. Lyrically, Kelly covers boredom, smoking and all matter of relationship troubles. She has a quiet, self-assured delivery and enough patience to stay away from overreaching. Her songs shun gaudy ornamentation—their simplicity is their greatest strength. (SM)

Miles Okazaki Generations (Sunnyside Records)

This undubbed, near-hour-long live studio recording presents nine organically connected compositions by guitarist Miles Okazaki, performed by his stunning septet in an unbroken skein—one composition growing out of and into another. Far from suffering a sophomore letdown, Okazaki has produced a second recording even more startlingly original than the first, alternating, superimposing and repurposing through composed and improvised sections to create music that is in places as fascinating as Bach and as liberating as Coltrane. With Miguel Zenón, David Binney and Christof Knoche (alto saxes); Jen Shyu (voice); Okazaki (electric guitar); Dan Weiss (drums); and Jon Flaugher (bass). (MM)

The Ashes The Ashes (Twilight Records)

The Ashes fucking suck. Kidding. A consortium of local weirdos—Joe Martinez, Ben Adams and Scott Meyers—gathered to make an exceedingly bitchin’ rock ‘n’ roll album, one of the best Albuquerque recordings to come along in some time. Drone and distortion executed in lo-fi makes it feel slightly like a more evil version of John Cale’s drug-addled Velvet Underground. It’s part punk, part experimental, part totally rad. Too bad it sucks so much. Kidding again. Please play a show soon. (JCC)

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